Presidential Pieces -- What would you pay for JFK?

You know what I love about presidential memorabilia? When there are stories about it being released or auctioned, they’re fun to read. It’s a part of history. And it’s the thing I care least about collecting, so I don’t worry about any of the auctions (it also helps that it’s usually out of my price range.

Recently in Austin, Texas, an entire collection of 100 love letters written between Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird, during their three month courtship in 1934, were made available to view last month on Valentine’s Day. They’re at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas, and they show the 26-year-old congressional aide was rather eager to marry the 21-year-old Claudia Alta Taylor (aka “Bird”). She claims he proposed the day after they met, but although she loved him, she just wasn’t “in love” with him. Okay, she didn’t say that. That was Nicole Dirnberger, my girlfriend in 8th grade. She said she did love him, but “Don’t know how everlastingly.”


Those letters will probably never be sold, but the JFK stuff made a bundle. A private collection of his memorabilia brought in $2 million at the John McInnis Auctioneers in Amesbury, Massachusetts. That included the president’s Air Force One leather bomber jacket, which fetched $570,000. I think Harrison Ford should’ve jumped in and purchased that.

There were thousands of photographs and documents, all belonging to David Powers, an assistant and close friend of John F. Kennedy.

Powers passed away in 1998. He was the first curator of the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, until retiring from that post in 1994.

Powers’ relatives found this collection locked away last year when they were preparing to sell the family home. They are keeping some of the memorabilia and giving other pieces to the Library.

The item I liked most was a 1959 photo. It shows JFK and Harry Truman shaking hands, and is signed and inscribed by Truman: To Mr. John F. Kennedy, with kindest regards, from his good friend, Henry Truman, 12-2-59.

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Tags: Air Force One, David Powers, Harry Truman, JFK, John F. Kennedy, John McInnis AUctioneers, Lady Bird Johnson, Lyndon Johnson, Nicole Dirnberger


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